England face Moldova tonight in the first match of the 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
What do we know about tonight’s opponents?
Moldova sit 141st in the FIFA rankings and have never qualified for a major tournament. Their most recent efforts in major qualifying campaigns saw them finish second bottom – in their EURO 2012 qualifying group – and last – in their 2010 World Cup qualifying group. No current squad member has more than 2 international goals to his name, though it must be noted that Moldova only played their first game as a nation in 1991. Their home kit is blue.
Who’s the Gaffer?
Moldova are managed by 61-year-old Ion Caras, who is currently in his third stint at the helm of the national team. During his playing career he plied his trade as a defender for Zimbru Chisinau.
Their home turf?
Moldova’s home stadium is the Zimbru Stadium, a 10,400 capacity ground in Chisinau. It has been the home of Zimbru Chisinau since it was built in 2006.
Who is their key player?
Stanislav Ivanov, 40, is considered their main threat. Despite his age the midfielder can still pose a threat with his passing game, and will require close attention from the England midfield.
Have there been previous meetings?
Yes, England have come up against Moldova twice – In home and away qualifiers for the 1998 World Cup. In both games the Three Lions eased to victory, winning 3-0 away before a 4-0 victory at home, which saw Paul Gascoigne and Paul Scholes net alongside a brace from Ian Wright.
Moldova’s likely line-up?
They tend to favour a 4-4-2 formation, relying on wingers Gheorghe Ovseannicov and Eugeniu Cebotaru to provide service to the front men. This approach should see key-man Ivanov sitting behind the main striker Igor Picusceac.
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